Whether you like a good cold weather camping trip or you just find that you get chilled at night regardless of the time of year, a portable camping heater can be a Godsend.
Portable camping heaters come in all manner of shapes and sizes (and price point), and their capabilities, benefits, and detriments vary quite a bit as well.
Part of the difficulty of choosing the best portable camping heater is simply narrowing the field down to a few possibilities. We’ll do that for you in this guide!
Below are three types of portable camping heaters for you to consider for your next camping or overlanding trip.
A Good Option: Comfort Zone CZ707 Compact Utility Heater
If you have a generator, an electric portable camping heater is a good option for taking the chill out of your tent.
The Comfort Zone CZ707 offers about 5,000 BTUs, so it’s powerful, but it’s also efficient and features a thermostat with a low, medium, and high setting for greater control over the temperature. You can also use the device in fan-only mode, which allows you to circulate the air in the tent and cool it down in the warmer months.
In terms of safety, Comfort Zone has gone all-out. The heating elements in this portable camping heater are inside a metal case and behind a front grate, so there’s no danger of accidentally touching the hot elements inside. There’s also an overheating shutoff sensor and a tip-over switch. There’s an indicator on the unit to indicate “caution” when something isn’t working as it should.
At just over three pounds, this is a small, easily portable heater, too.
Of course, the primary downside is that you need electricity to run it. If you’re camping in an established campground with electric hookups, you just need a long extension cord. But if electricity isn’t available, you’ll need a generator to power the heater. The sound of the generator is more than enough to keep you up at night (and neighboring campers too).
A Better Option: Mr. Heater MH12B Hunting Buddy Portable Camping Heater
As far as portable camping heaters go, Mr. Heater gets high marks for its functional and durable heaters.
This Hunting Buddy heater puts out between 6,000 to 12,000 BTUs, so it’s a good option for heating larger tents.
As a radiant heater, it offers quiet operation so you can actually be warm and sleep! It’s easy to use, too – there’s a single control dial and a swivel regulator.
The heater runs off of a one-pound propane tank, though you can opt to use a hose and filter to connect the unit to a 20-pound propane tank if you really need long-lasting heat.
This portable camping heater weighs about nine pounds and measures 10.25 x 15.5 x 16.5 inches, so it isn’t nearly as small as the Comfort Zone electric heater discussed earlier. However, this is still a small, easy-to-move heater that will warm your tent up in a jiff.
While this heater is rated for indoor use, you will still need to ensure there’s proper ventilation. The unit comes with an Oxygen Depletion Sensor that turns the heater off when oxygen levels are too low. There’s also a tip-over safety switch.
The major downsides to this heater are that you can burn through a one-pound propane tank pretty quickly, which necessitates having several tanks on hand (one tank lasts around six hours). The other downside is that the Oxygen Depletion Sensor limits the elevations at which the heater will work. If you’re camping above 7,000 feet, this heater may shut off.
The Best Option: Planar Heaters 2kw Portable Diesel Air Heater
While the electric and propane portable camping heater options discussed above are certainly well worth your hard-earned money, for me, nothing beats the Planar Heaters Portable Diesel Air Heater.
Of the three heaters on this list, this one is by far the most expensive. However, this is a you-get-what-you-pay-for situation…
For starters, it comes in a crushproof and weather-resistant case, so it can take a beating on your trips no matter the time of year. Likewise, it can run off of either diesel or kerosene and 12v DC, so you can tailor the fuel you use to the situation.
What I especially like is that this heater is equipped with features that make it a joy to use. It has a silencer to keep the noise down, an air intake filter to keep it breathing well, and it has a wired remote so you don’t even have to get out of bed to adjust it!
But the best part is that this heater stays outside your tent, thereby eliminating the risk of fumes becoming a problem. Instead, you just get all the dry heat you want to keep your tent warm and free from condensation.
And this portable camping heater does a great job with fuel consumption – just two liters for about eight hours of usage. You can use it up to 8,200 feet above sea level as well!
You have to appreciate the versatility of this heater too. You can use it in your tent, your camper van, travel trailer, boat, hunting shack – you name it.
At 24 x 16.5 x 19 in in size and weighing in at 25.5 pounds, this is the biggest and heaviest heater on this list. However, it’s still highly portable and won’t take up too much space in your vehicle, camper, or RV.
These heaters are well-built, extremely durable, and backed by a two-year warranty. That makes the Planar Heaters Portable Diesel Air Heater a fantastic option for your cold weather camping needs!